CALIFORNIA CONTENT STANDARD 10.1.1 Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman Perspectives

Specific Objective: Analyze the similarities and differences in Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman views of law, reason and faith, and duties of the individual.

Read the summary to answer the questions on the next page. For much of human history, people have lived under the rule of kings or other rulers who held absolute power. A direct contrast is the system of democracy, in which people govern themselves through councils and agreed-upon laws. The earliest democracies arose in ancient Greece and Rome. Ancient Greece had a (limited) form of direct democracy. In a direct democracy, citizens represent themselves directly at councils. Ancient Rome saw the rise of the republic—an indirect democracy in which citizens rule through representatives, whom they elect. Many countries today, including the United States, use the republic form of democracy.

Greco-Roman Views

Judeo-Christian Views

Questions:Directions: Choose the letter of the best answer.

1. What was groundbreaking about the development of democracy?

  1. People were able to govern without using written laws.
  2. People were governed by councils, instead of by an absolute ruler.
  3. Democracy brought together religious faith and government.
  4. Democracy balanced power among religious leaders and kings.

2. A political system in which representatives are elected by the people follows the model of

  1. direct democracy.
  2. a republic.
  3. branches of government.
  4. Judeo-Christian tradition.

3. In the Greco-Roman view, the world is governed by natural laws that can be discovered through

  1. reason.
  2. tradition.
  3. faith.
  4. citizen participation.

4. In Judeo-Christian tradition, helping others in need should be the

  1. only duty of political leaders.
  2. sole mission of religion.
  3. responsibility of government.
  4. responsibility of every person.

5. Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian traditions share an emphasis on

  1. prosperity.
  2. fair government.
  3. faith in one God.
  4. ndividual choice.

6.What was one means by which Greco- Roman and Judeo-Christian values spread throughout Europe in the first centuries A.D.?

  1. explorers in the Age of Discovery
  2. expansion of the Roman Empire
  3. missionaries building churches
  4. conversion by the sword in Africa
CALIFORNIA CONTENT STANDARD 10.1.2 Western Political Ideas of Tyranny

Specific Objective: Trace the development of Western political ideas of rule of law and illegitimacy of tyranny, using selections from Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Politics.

Read the summary to answer the questions on the next page.
In ancient Greece, the word tyrant was used for any leader who took over a government. A tyrant typically won public support and then seized power. Only later did tyrant come to mean what it does today—a leader who takes power illegally and abuses that power.

Tyranny in ancient Greece could be seen as a step toward democracy because a tyrant often gained power with support of the people, while a king, for instance, did not. However, like a king, a tyrant held all of the power himself.

Ancient Greek thinkers known as philosophers (“lovers of wisdom”) often considered how different forms of government, including tyranny, affected society. In The Republic, the philosopher Plato wrote that a tyrant becomes troublesome when he loves his power so much that he takes drastic measures to maintain it:

“At first, in the early days of his power, [the tyrant] is full of smiles . . . [but later] he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.”
—Plato, The Republic

In Plato’s view, a central reason that a tyrant becomes a problem is that the ruler has too much freedom—freedom to do whatever he or she likes, without regard for law or reason. As a result, the ruler can become a danger to the people.
Plato’s famous student, Aristotle, said that not only does a tyrant have too much power, but acts selfishly, ultimately acting against the will and the benefit of the people. Aristotle wrote, in Politics, that tyranny:
“. . . is just that arbitrary power of an individual which is responsible to no one, and governs all . . . with a view to its own advantage, not to that of its subjects, and therefore against their will.”
—Aristotle, Politics

The influence of ancient Greek philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, extended beyond their time. Because they used logic and reason to think about the world and debate new ideas, they created a spirit of questioning and choice that aided the development of democracy.

Directions: Choose the letter of the best answer.

1. In ancient Greece, the word tyrant referred to a leader who

  1. took over the government.
  2. ruled with cruelty.
  3. lost the support of the people.
  4. wanted to become a king.

2. According to ancient Greek philosophers, with whom did a tyrant share power?

  1. the people
  2. the aristocracy
  3. a group of philosophers
  4. nobody

3. What was the primary activity of a philosopher in ancient Greece?

  1. criticizing the government
  2. thinking about natural laws
  3. working toward democracy
  4. reforming the laws

4. Plato wrote that a tyrant can become dangerous because every tyrant has too much

  1. freedom to rule.
  2. material wealth.
  3. popular support.
  4. interest in war.

5. According to Aristotle, why does a tyrant govern against the will of the people?

  1. Tyrants take power illegally.
  2. The people wish to rebel against a tyrant.
  3. The tyrant is primarily self interested.
  4. Many people ruled by the tyrant are slaves.

6. Ancient Greek philosophers helped the development of democracy by

  1. expanding definitions of citizenship.
  2. ending the rule of the tyrants.
  3. writing a basic set of fair laws.
  4. promoting reason and thought.
CALIFORNIA CONTENT STANDARD 10.1.3 Influence of the U.S. Constitution on World Political Systems

Specific Objective: Consider the influence of the U.S. Constitution on political systems in the contemporary world.

Read the chart to answer the questions on the next page.
The U.S. Constitution has influenced political systems throughout the world. This chart shows how some of its fundamental principles have been enacted.



In the U.S. Constitution

In the World Today


The national government and the state governments share power.

Powers are shared between the national government and the 50 state governments.

In South Africa, power is shared between the national government and the governments of the nine provinces.

Separation of Powers

Government roles are divided among different branches, with no one branch holding all the power.

There are three branches of government: legislative (Congress), executive (the president), and judicial (the courts).

South Korea has three branches of government: parliament, a court system, and a president.

Popular Sovereignty

The government gets its authority from the people and reflects their will.

The preamble says, “We the people of the United States… do ordain and establish this Constitution…” which indicates that government power comes from the people.

The Japanese Constitution begins by saying that the government’s power comes from the people and shall be used by them for their own benefit.

Individual Rights

Liberties and privileges are guaranteed to each citizen.

The Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of speech, religion, the press, and other rights.

The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights says that “all human beings are born free and equal” and should have certain rights.


Directions: Choose the letter of the best answer.

“We, the Japanese people… do proclaim that sovereign power resides with the people and do firmly establish this Constitution.”
—The Constitution of Japan, 1946

1. What principle is reflected in the quotation from the Japanese Constitution?

  1. federalism
  2. separation of powers
  3. popular sovereignty
  4. individual rights

2. The U.S. Constitution reflects the principle of federalism by

  1. sharing power between the national and state governments.
  2. dividing the government into three branches.
  3. guaranteeing all citizens equal protection under the law.
  4. granting voting rights to all citizens 18 years and older.

3. A new government based on the principle of popular sovereignty must

  1. ensure freedom of speech for all citizens.
  2. have a directly elected president or prime minister.
  3. affirm the idea that its power comes from the people.
  4. divide government roles among different branches.

4. The division of South Korea’s government into three branches with distinct powers reflects the principle of

  1. federalism.
  2. separation of powers.
  3. popular sovereignty.
  4. individual rights.

5. What guarantees freedom of speech to U.S. citizens?

  1. the preamble to the U.S. Constitution
  2. the Bill of Rights
  3. Article 1 of the U.S. Constitution
  4. the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights